2016-17 Season Breakdown: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Los Angeles Kings
The Tampa Bay Lightning collected four points and traded Ben Bishop to them. All in all a good year.
Los Angeles Kings
January 16, 2017 Tampa 2- Los Angeles 1
Preview by iActium: “The Bolts have just been too inconsistent this season. There are times (1st period against Columbus) where they look like the team that was two games away from a Stanley Cup, and there are times when they look like a discombobulated mess.”
Recap by Clark J Brooks: “By necessity, the Lightning have been trying on different personas to help deal with an injury-ravaged roster and stay relevant in the pursuit of the postseason. Monday, they gave good old-fashioned “grit” a try, something with which the skill-oriented Bolts aren’t automatically familiar.”
February 7, 2017 Tampa 5 - Los Angeles 0
Preview by iActium: “Los Angeles will be hungry to erase the shellacking Washington handed them. If Tampa Bay comes out flat in the first period it will spell disaster; the Kings are not a team you want to give a lead too, they will suffocate your offense throughout the rest of the game and smile as you squirm to try and make something happen.”
It was instead the Lightning doing the suffocating and smiling.
Recap by Bethelhub: “[Brian] Boyle got called for an offside which somehow turned into a scrum. This is why we love Boyle. (Side note: according to the Bolts jumbo-tron it takes 651 hockey pucks to equal Brian Boyle's weight. The more you know!)”
Yes, in a 5-0 game I chose that sentence to recap because it is important to know how many pucks Brian Boyle weighs!
Goals: Nikita Kucherov (2), Tyler Johnson (1), Gabriel Dumont (1), Jonathan Drouin (1), Braydon Coburn (1), Bryan Boyle (1)
Assists: Jonathan Drouin (2), Luke Witkowski (2), Vlad Namestnikov (2), Nikita Kucherov (1), Joel Vermin (1), Andrej Sustr (1), Victor Hedman (1), Valtteri Filppula (1), JT Brown (1)
Save Percentage: Ben Bishop .983 SV% (59 saves on 60 shots)
Oh there was a trade. A big trade. A 6’7” trade. The long-anticipated trade of pending free agent Ben Bishop finally went down on February 26th. In return for Bishop and a 5th round pick, the Lightning received defensive prospect Erik Cernak, Peter Budaj and a conditional 7th round pick (the condition being so mysterious that we’re not sure it was included in this deal or the next deal the two teams conspired to make).
With his rights expiring on June 1st, Mr. Yzerman decided it would be better to cut his losses and deal Boko Imama, a 6th round pick in 2015, to the Kings for a conditional 7th round pick in 2018. The Kings inked the 20-year-old to an NHL deal that day, fulfilling the condition and Mr. Yzerman finally had his long coveted 7th round pick.
View from the Other Bench:
We reached to Eric, the editor for Jewels From the Crown, for his thoughts on the Lightning/Kings series. His response: “Ironic that it was Bishop vs. Budaj in both games.”
To give him a break, we did reach out kind of last minute, and I’m sure he’s formulating a more detailed response.
I was right, Eric did have some more thoughts about the match-up. Here are his full comments on the season series:
“LA's two showdowns with the Lightning were emphasized by an absence of star power. In one case, literally; Anze Kopitar was a last-minute scratch before a 2-1 home loss, which would have been a fine excuse if the Lightning weren't missing Steven Stamkos, J.T. Brown, Victor Hedman, Ryan Callahan and Brayden Point.
LA almost played better in a follow-up 5-0 loss, which sounds strange, but it's easy to imagine a better result if Ben Bishop doesn't stop all 19 shots in the first period. It was so frustrating I had to write a choose-your-own-recap to convince myself things were okay [JustinG - I really enjoyed the recap. Wish I had thought of that]
They clearly weren't during that stretch, and it was the second straight 5-0 loss after a five-game win streak. LA's solution was to trade the goalie who lost both of those games for the goalie who won both of those games. And no, it didn't save the season.”
Sara A. had some nice things to say in the preview before the February match-up:
Despite all the holes in the Lightning’s lineup -- Steven Stamkos, Ryan Callahan, and Ondrej Palat are all out -- they’re still a team that’s going to try to beat you with speed and creativity. Tyler Johnson is taking on first line center duties in Stamkos’ absence and is holding down the spot admirably. He’s second on the team in goals (16) and third in points (33). Some of that might be luck -- he’s shooting a remarkable 16%, his highest since a 14-game stint in 2012-13 -- but he’s also just that good.
Did the Los Angeles Kings Help or Hurt the Lightning?
Not only did they help the Lightning in their ill-fated quest to make the playoffs, the Kings also helped them clear up some cap room off of the ice. The Lightning took 4 out of 4 points from a Los Angeles team that is always hard to play. The 2-1 win in Los Angeles was the beginning of the transition for the Lightning. While they were still a team with tremendous skill, against the Kings they became a team much more dedicated to keeping the puck out of the net.
The tone was set early in that game. Just a minute into the game Luke Witkowski laid a nice open ice hit on Kyle Clifford. It was the first of 41 hits the Lighting had that day, a huge number for a team known more for it’s skill than it’s physical play. Was it the reason they won? It most likely played a part, but Ben Bishop stopping 30 of 31 shots was the number one reason they took two points on a Monday afternoon. As was often frustrating with Bishop, the one goal he allowed was pretty much ALL HIS FAULT!
He did get his revenge in the match up a couple of weeks later where he tossed a 28 save shutout. Perhaps it was his stellar performance against them that intrigued the Kings’ brass into trading for him despite the fact that Peter Budaj was fine all season and Jonathan Quick was back from injury.
While the trade itself wasn’t the blockbuster folks in these parts had hoped for, it did clear enough cap space that Mr. Yzerman didn’t have to worry about performance bonuses and cap overages. Will Cernek turn into an actual prospect? Who knows? There was no way Bishop was coming back to the Lightning and the organization actually received something in return for him.
I attended the January 16th match in Los Angeles. The Staples Center is an impressive building. It has the largest concourses that I’ve seen in a building. Seriously, it seemed like it took 30 minutes to walk around the building. It’s also one of the largest arena’s I’ve ever been in to watch a hockey game.
There are a tremendous amount of banners hanging from the rafters, mostly Lakers, but the King have a decent amount. Oddly enough, during the Kings game there was no Clippers banners or paraphernalia to be found. Yet, when my friend and I attended the Clippers game later that same day (they turned the arena in about 3 hours which is damn impressive) all of the Lakers banners were covered up and Clippers stuff had appeared from nowhere. Kind of odd.